Biometrics leap not to be taken lightly

The biometrics security solution isn't for everyone, at least not yet.

When the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center planned toreform the Louisiana Public Hospital System, it expected to use biometricsto provide secure access to online health information. The plan was to haveall providers in the Public Hospital System use a biometric reader to logon to a workstation.

More than $860,000 was allocated to the proj-ect, which was expectedto take 12 to 18 months.

"We certainly talked a lot about it, and we did a lot of work evaluatingit and the technologies available," said Bart Ponze, the center's directorof Enterprise Computer Services. "But in the end, we never managed to achievea consensus about which route to take."

The problem wasn't the biometrics technology. What Ponze and his colleagueseventually realized was that they didn't know enough about how the existingsystem was being used.

"As far as authentication was concerned, we realized we had to do alot more to identify just how [network] authentication is done now, whatthe workflow was like around the workstations people would use to accessthe system and so on," he said. "We also realized we had to have a betterunderstanding of the thin-client infrastructure that was in place."

So while a biometrics system is definitely on the back burner for now,Ponze said he and his colleagues have a better understanding of the technologyand will be better prepared when and if it eventually comes to the hospitalsystem.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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